A gamified and mystery-driven approach for facilitating problem based learning in a postgraduate strength and conditioning module

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This study examined students’ experience of a gamified, mystery-driven problem based learning (PBL) approach in a postgraduate strength and conditioning module. Few studies have documented how hybrid teaching and learning methods employing aspects of mystery and gamification within PBL are experience by postgraduate students. This paper documents the student experiences of such an approach within a module in an MSc programme in strength and conditioning in an English University. Within a 10 week, 20 credit, module, students were introduced to an organisation they believed to be real and asked to compile a presentation for that organisation providing suggestions in relation of athlete development. A series of mystery packages were then delivered to the students over a four week period, as the central element of the module, providing information that was potentially relevant to their problem scenario. This was followed by two tutorial sessions prior to presentation of the student work. Following completion of the module, students participated in focus group interviews. Focus group interviews, analysed using thematic analysis, revealed that students believed the approach was interesting, interactive, developed new skills and was vocationally relevant. However, students felt confused by the approach, perceiving this to be negative, unaware that the confusing elements were designed to prompt deeper learning. These results seem to indicate that a PBL approach, using some aspects of gamification, via role play and mystery, via receiving ‘mystery’ packages can add value to the postgraduate experience. Despite this, the approach trialled in this study can be challenging to employ. Academics and practitioners need to be aware that the student perception of confusion the process can create is initially negative but is an important element to better answer causal questions, diagnose and solve problems, and demonstrate application of acquired knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-48
Number of pages21
JournalPractice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2018


  • Gamification
  • Sport and Exercise Science
  • Interactive learning
  • Constructivism


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